How to Protect Curly and Coily Hair Overnight, According to Experts

Welcome to Sleep Week! We're dedicating five days of content to one of our absolute favorite activities, and the products that make catching zzz's that much more enjoyable. Get ready to sleep tight. 

Like having a nightly skin-care regimen, practicing a regular hair-care routine is crucial for long-term hair health — particularly when it comes to protecting textured hair. It's called beauty sleep for a reason, after all.

While all textures benefit from having an overnight hair-care routine, it is especially important for curly, coily and textured hair types, which are "naturally more susceptible to frizz and losing definition," Ona Diaz-Santin, a New Jersey-based hairstylist, tells Fashionista. "Staying consistent is key and will play a big role in helping prevent breakage and maintaining a defined curl."

Not implementing a dedicated overnight hair-care regimen can also result in dryness, an itchy scalp and hair strands becoming brittle, leading to split ends, says Los Angeles-based session hairstylist Suzette Boozer, whose celebrity clients include Gwen Stefani, Tati Gabrielle and Eve.

Ahead, a total breakdown of the ins and outs of caring for curly and textured hair while sleeping — from expert-approved styling techniques to effective overnight products.

Know your hair's needs

Before determining what practices and products will help you achieve your hair dreams while you dream, it's important to first establish your strands' needs: This can include repair, hydration, moisture, addressing breakage, frizz reduction, optimizing stretching, detangling — the list goes on. For most people with curly and coily hair, two key goals should be: moisture retention and a protective overnight hairstyle.

"Moisture retention is important because, as opposed to people with straight and wavy hair, [those with curly hair are] more prone to dryness," says Diaz-Santin. She recommends using a leave-in conditioner or hair oil to seal in moisture overnight. Meanwhile, protective styles can help to prevent friction and curl definition loss that can occur while tossing and turning during the night.

Los Angeles-based hairstylist Marcia Hamilton, whose celebrity clients include Tracee Ellis Ross, Ayo Edebiri and Uzo Aduba, also advises gently detangling hair before bed to prevent breakage, considering curly and coily textures tangle more easily than straight or wavy hair.

Experiment with different protective styles

Every hair professional will tell you that throwing your hair into a protective style is an absolute must before bed. There's a range of techniques to choose from, from twists to braids to bantu knots. San Francisco-based curly-hair expert Brendnetta Ashley recommends two strand twists: "Take a section of hair and divide it into two, then wrap the two sections around each other from roots to ends. If done on damp hair the definition will be tighter," she explains.

For those with long enough hair, "pineappling" is another expert-approved overnight protective style, in which you flip your head, "gather your curls into a loose, high ponytail" and "secure it with a scrunchie or satin hair tie," explains Hamilton. Beyond preserving curl definition, protective styles maintain volume for the following day.

Use the right treatments

Long-lasting hair health requires more than a simple shampoo and rinse-out conditioner before your head hits the pillow. Once again, moisture retention is the name of the game: Leave-in conditioners, lightweight hair oils and hair masks are ideal, as they hydrate, deep condition and soften strands overnight. Expert-approved ingredients to look for include shea butter, coconut oil and aloe vera.

And don't neglect the scalp: Give it some TLC with a serum or oil. "If you have a dry scalp, using a scalp oil overnight can help moisturize and soothe your scalp," Hamilton shares. "Look for oils with ingredients like tea tree oil or peppermint oil for added benefits."

But be careful: There are also a handful of ingredients that do more harm than good, according to Hamilton. Those with curly hair in particular should avoid products that contain alcohol, which can sap moisture and important naturally occurring oils from the hair and scalp; silicones can cause build-up, resulting in the need for harsher cleansing routines that in turn strip away moisture; and heavy butters can weigh down and flatten curls.

Another ingredient to avoid? Mineral oil. "It will only coat the hair and won't penetrate into the hair follicles," Ashley notes. "The hair will not actually be moisturized, but will have buildup of product."

Invest in overnight hair accessories

After detangling strands, coating them in high-quality restorative products and putting them in an overnight hairstyle, it's crucial to preserve all that hard work with protective, sleep-ready hair accessories. Wearing a silk hair bonnet is a must, and was recommended unanimously by the experts we consulted for this story. In the absence of a bonnet, they agree that a silk or satin pillowcase is also a good idea.

"Cotton can cause friction and absorb moisture from your hair, leading to frizz and breakage. Silk or satin pillowcases reduce friction and help retain moisture," says Hamilton.

Other accessories to preserve curl definition without causing damage include silk and satin scrunchies, flexi-rods and sponge rollers. Hamilton also suggests keeping a humidifier in your bedroom to help add moisture to the air, which can in turn keep hair (and skin) more hydrated.

Ahead, we've compiled 18 expert-approved overnight hair treatments, bonnets and scrunchies to keep curls and coils healthy and thriving.

Amika Soulfood Nourishing Hair Mask, $34, available here

Bread Beauty Supply Elastic Bounce Leave-In Conditioning Styler Hair Cream, $28, available here

The Crown Affair Leave-In Conditioner Cream for Hydrated Hair, $48, available here

Pattern Beauty Leave-In Conditioner for Curly & Coily Hair, $28, available here

Shea Moisture 100% Pure Argan Oil Head Tea Soothing, $11, available here

Mizani Moisture Fusion Deep Conditioning Hair Mask, $38, available here

Briogeo Destined for Density Peptide Hair Serum, $57, available here

Kitsch Black Satin Sleep Bonnet, $22, available here

Blissy Skinny Scrunchies, $28 $50, available here

Bumble and Bumble Bond-Building Repair Hair Oil Serum, $45, available here

Slip Small Slipsilk Scrunchies, $39, available here

Living Proof Triple Bond Complex Leave-In Hair Treatment, $45, available here

Bomba Curls Forbidden Hair Mask, $28, available here

Carol's Daughter Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Hair & Scalp Oil, $7, available here

Melanin Haircare Multi-Use Softening Leave-In Conditioner, $23, available here

Flawless by Gabrielle Union Scalp Soothing Tonic, $11, available here

Kérastase Nutritive 8H Magic Night Serum Hydrating Treatment for Dry Hair, $60, available here

Sienna Naturals Plant Power Repair Mask, $32, available here

Join our editors on The Fashionista Network as we talk all things Sleep Week this Friday, March 29 at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET. Sign up for free access now.

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